Q&A with Tony Loynes on Wilmington's purchase of Press Gazette

Why has Wilmington bought Press Gazette?

It's a massive irony that Press Gazette's problems were little to do with the quality of its editorial output or its commercial viability. It's not for us to go into the labyrinthine politics of its recent problems, but Press Gazette has a lot of strengths and a great deal of business opportunity, and we want to restore confidence in what is a terrific product.

How do you think you can make a success of the business?

Press Gazette was already showing how that success could be won and we intend to build on some fine work done by all concerned at the magazine. This will see us providing more services and information to journalists, and we have a good deal of experience within Wilmington to build this into a plan.

Why did the sale go through so late in the day, after the magazine had ceased trading for a week and the editorial staff had been made redundant? Was this a deliberate move to make it easier to reduce the running costs?

Absolutely not. We were contacted very late in the day and only came into Press Gazette to discuss building a rescue plan after it had ceased trading. And we are paying heavily for this, because some journalists have taken opportunities elsewhere. We do, however, have a solid view on how PG should be structured, and we will be recruiting staff on this basis.

What will happen to all the subscriptions — will subscribers be compensated for the missing week?

Yes, nobody is going to lose out. Readers have been loyal over the years and we intend to reward that loyalty.

There are a number of journalist creditors left over from the previous regime — do they have any chance of getting their money back?

Sadly this is an issue for the previous owners. However, Wilmington is a substantial company and I think that all our journalists can feel very confident about developing a long term relationship with PG under our ownership.

What are your plans for the website www.pressgazette.co.uk — will it continue as a breaking news service?

The website is a great service and one which we intend to grow and develop. But currently it competes with the magazine too much and needs to grow into a complementary service.

Does the magazine have a long-term future in print form?

We will publish in the form the readers wish. At the moment, this is print plus a web presence and we will be consulting and reviewing our formats on an ongoing basis. And I think print has a good life ahead of it for the foreseeable future.

How long do you think Wilmington will give this project?

Wilmington has a strong track record of staying with its titles. It is not a fickle owner and has many assets which it can bring to bear, such as a skilled circulation and subscription team and a conference and events team who can build on Press Gazette's role and influence.

What are your plans for the editorial content of the magazine? Will its editorial independence be safeguarded?

Its editorial independence is integral to its value and credibility. Only a fool would tamper with that.

What is your history with Press Gazette and what do you think of the way the magazine has developed since you left?

I was editor and publisher of Press Gazette (then called UK Press Gazette) through some exciting years. We saw off a Robert Maxwell legal action when we got too close to the murkier parts of his business and we fought off his attempts to close us down in several other ways.

"Young man, I'm going to finish you," were his words. Well, he didn't. It takes a lot to kill Press Gazette, as we can see.

The magazine developed significantly under the last regime, which for all the criticism it has received didn't flinch from investing in it in its early days. It has a strong news edge and an insider feel, which we always felt was the right tone.

What do you think of the decisions of editor Ian Reeves and deputy editor Jon Slattery not to stay with the magazine following the Wilmington buy-out?

I totally respect their views. They are two journalists of enormous integrity who have given a huge amount to the magazine. I wish them well, however I intend to tempt them with contributing to PG for many years to come.

Will Press Gazette be running the British Press Awards this year? How can they be run in a way which avoids the controversy and boycotts which have dogged them in the past?

We are in deep discussion with all the newspapers involved and I am confident of an outcome which will satisfy everyone. The BPA is an important event for Press Gazette as are its companion events which focus on all that is good about British journalism.

Why does Press Gazette's survival matter for UK journalism, especially in the face of competition from news websites?

I don't believe anyone has journalism and journalists closer to its heart. Many have a broad media outlook, but none our focus. We should be the industry voice and conscience — the place where people look to find expression, development and provocation about their craft.

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